Combating Poaching and Illegal Logging in Tanzania: Voices of the Rangers-Hands-on Experiences from the Field

Young cattle herders apprehended by anti-poaching rangers, Biharamulo Game Reserve, November 2015

In Zimbabwe and Tanzania, cyanide is widely circulated and easily accessible due to the extensive mining industry. Efforts should be taken immediately to prevent the toxins from reaching poachers. Although no incidents of cyanide used for poaching have yet been reported in Tanzania, as long as the market is willing to pay as much as it is for ivory, it is only a matter of time before it happens. Indeed, incidents with poachers killing elephants by mixing tobacco and various toxins with pumpkins and other fruits have already been reported in Tanzania. The Tanzanian general election that took place in late October 2015 resulted in a massive increase of livestock in the protected areas such as game/forest reserves and national parks. The candidates from the different parties understood that giving permits to big cattle owners would secure support, and took the opportunity. The result was catastrophic as the protected areas were flooded with cattle. The invasion led to huge problems for the park/game rangers and the Anti-Poaching Units (APUs). Not only was the wildlife disturbed and the vegetation destroyed, but the wildlife officers found themselves in a position where they could end up being indicted by officials or other high ranking personnel for

in order to feed their families. 9 Sometimes the high incomes from poaching will entice them to shoot elephants for their ivory, and due to their detailed knowledge about anti-poaching management and tactics, it can be comparatively easy for them to find and kill the animals undetected. One cruel example of this is the slaughter of at least 62 elephants in Zimbabwe in October 2015 by rangers and game wardens. 10 The wildlife rangers and other staff at Hwange National Park reportedly did not receive their already low wages and it is feared that they killed elephants in the park as a form of «protest» against management. In recent years, poachers have implemented a new killing technique: poisoning. Cyanide is the preferred poison, and the poachers normally mix the deadly toxin in oranges, pumpkins and salt blocks to attract the elephants. In Zimbabwe even entire waterholes have been poisoned, meaning that not only are mature elephants with large tusks gruesomely killed, but also small elephant calves without tusks and all other wildlife that relies upon the water.


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